Monday, 17 June 2019

UB40 - UB40 (1988)

Dance with the devil....


Released on 11 July 1988

Running Time 41:22

This unimaginatively-titled album saw the change in UB40 from a radical, rootsy but catchy reggae band to more of a finely-crafted mainstream, brassy reggae-tinged keyboard-dominated pop outfit. There still remains a bit of an authentic atmosphere here and there, though, but it is very driven by the brass section as opposed to the skank. Strangely, the cover shows some medieval portraits, the significance of which is unclear.

The edgy, political motivations of 1986's Rat In The Kitchen had gone, though, exchanged for polished pop/reggae and love songs instead of more cynical protest numbers.


1. Dance With The Devil
2. Come Out To Play
3. Breakfast In Bed
4. You're Always Pulling Me Down
5. I Would Do For You
6. 'Cause It Isn't True
7. Where Did I Go Wrong
8. Contaminated Minds
9. Matter Of Time
10. Music So Nice
11. Dance With The Devil (Reprise)                        

Dance With The Devil is a punchy, rhythmic opener featuring some excellent brass and a thumping beat. Surprisingly, it is an instrumental. No matter, really, it is an extremely good one. Come Out To Play is a typical piece of of late eighties UB40 fare - summery, laid-back but melodious, with a catchy hook and Ali Campbell's unique quietly nasal voice instantly recognisable. The rhythms now are more programmed, however, less authentic, as they had been on the first two albums in particular. Those albums were seven or eight years back in time by now, though.

Breakfast In Bed was a lovers rock style cover of a Dusty Springfield song (also done by lovers rock singer Lorna Bennett and roots vocalist Candy McKenzie), which here featured Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders on lead vocals and its gentle groove made it a big hit. Campbell adopts an unusually high-pitched vocal on his parts. You're Always Pulling Me Down reverted to the muscular, horn-driven beat of the opener. Once again, it is archetypal UB40 late eighties material.

I Would Do For You is the first dub-influenced number, despite its poppy, love song lyrics. It has a deep, rumbling bass and a horn sound reminiscent of the group's 1981-82 output. Cause It Isn't True is a lively number, as also is Where Did I Go Wrong. The latter has a really familiar keyboard riff that I can't put my finger on, infuriatingly. It's come to me now, it is The Days Of Pearly Spencer.

Contaminated Minds has a heavy, dubby beat and echoes of the Rat In The Kitchen album. It is one of the album's more rootsy cuts. A similarly solid approach is given to the infectious slow groove of Matter Of Time. Music So Nice features a very late eighties digital beat but it is also a very hooky song. It is vaguely dancehall in its rhythm. The opening track is briefly reprised to end what is a regularly overlooked album, particularly by myself, who has to admit to rarely returning to it. That is a bit of a shame as it is perfectly ok. Sandwiched between Rat In The Kitchen and Labour Of Love II, though, it has been often forgotten.


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